Sunday, June 01, 2014

Ben-Gurion on Returning Territories

In the July 13, 1972 issue of Ta'as, the in-house magazine of Israel's military industry concern, David Ben-Gurion replied to this question posed by Yosef Evron:

Today, five years after the Six Days War, are you still of the opinion that we must return all the territories for peace?

and the answer was:

"I never said that we should return all the territories; I had said except for Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  And also this, that it be on the condition that the Arabs would be willing to sign a treaty of true peace with us.  (With emphasis) Today, I am doubtful if they are prepared for this.  On the meantime we are settling in and doing important things in the Sinai.  There is a major difference between returning empty desert territory and doing so to inhabited areas.  I would not order that the settled area of Sinai be returned to Egypt.  A change has occured there since 1967 and are continuing to change.  It's one thing to return a desert and another that has been developed by Jews."

A second question followed:

In 1956, after the Operation Kadesh, you ordered a full withdrawal from Sinai, do you think today that that decision was correct?

To which Ben-Gurion replied 

I haven't changed my mind since then.  We had two goals then: to eradicate the threat of the fedyeen who had very much bothered the southern communities and to open to free sailing the Tiran Straits.  I told [Mapam MK Mordechai] Bentov who asked me prior to the campaign if we would hold on to the territories and told him no and explained that Sinai doesn't interest me and we are not going to war to acquire new desert territory.  If the Egyptians had kept to the agreement that was ahcieved then --- the Six Days War would not have broken out.

[With emphasis] Today, the situation has changed.  The Arab leaders are not willing to sign a peace treaty with us and the settling in Sinai is changing the desert reality.  If I had the authority, I would not order a dismantling of those communities and the handing over of territory to the Egyptians.


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